President Joe Biden touted his economic agenda Wednesday amid low polling numbers on his job performance and the direction of the country.
In remarks at Chicago's Old Post Office building, Biden railed against the economic approach of his predecessor, Donald Trump.
"The trickle-down approach failed the middle class. It failed America," Biden said. "I knew we couldn’t go back to the same failed policies when I ran. So I came into office determined to change the economic direction of this country, to move from trickle-down economics to what everyone at [The] Wall Street Journal and Financial Times began to call 'Bidenomics.'"
"Guess what? Bidenomics is working. When I took office the pandemic was raging and our economy was reeling," he said. "Today, the U.S. has the highest economic growth rate, leading the world economies since the pandemic — the highest in the world."
Biden highlighted legislation he enacted, such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to repair and modernize the nation's roads, bridges, transit systems and high-speed internet.
He took credit for decreasing prices over the last year, saying, "Inflation is less than half of what it was a year ago." Biden also said the Inflation Reduction Act, which he signed into law, has led to lower prescription drug costs.
Biden touched on his proposal to overhaul the tax system, saying he wants to increase rates on the highest earners, which he said would help reduce the federal deficit.
In response, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said the country is "worse off" under the Biden administration.
"Savings, real wages, and economic confidence are all down while prices continue to skyrocket, and hardworking Americans pay the price for failed ‘Bidenomics.’ Voters don’t want Biden to ‘finish the job,’ and will make that clear in 2024," McDaniel said in a statement.
The president’s plan — the White House has adopted the nickname “Bidenomics” — aims to “move beyond” the “trickle down” economic theory that it says disproportionately benefits the wealthy and big corporations through tax cuts while reducing investment in priorities such as infrastructure and education and failing to protect market competition.
Core aspects of “Bidenomics” include targeted public investment to attract more private-sector investment in sectors that are central to the country's long-term economic and national security interests. That includes investments in infrastructure, semiconductors, clean energy and climate security. The White House has cited the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which Biden signed in 2021, billions of dollars in private investment commitments since Biden entered office, an increase in inflation-adjusted manufacturing construction spending and the growth of the clean energy workforce last year.
The administration also seeks policies “designed to promote and empower workers,” noting record low unemployment rates for women, minorities, disabled people and other groups. And it is touting its investments in apprenticeships and career technical education programs, its support for labor unions and its push for free universal preschool and community college.
The plan supports “healthy competition across sectors,” the White House said, arguing that more competition results in lower costs for consumers and higher wages for workers.
The White House also criticized congressional Republicans for an economic approach that it argues would “harm hard-working families.” In recent months, Biden has highlighted Republican policies that he says would cause such harm, including rescinding IRS tax enforcement money and opposing his federal student loan forgiveness plan and potentially targeting entitlement programs — a criticism Republican leaders pushed back against.
“President Biden believes in a fundamentally different approach,” the White House said in a news release. “Under Bidenomics, he has proven that we can make smart investments in the American people while reducing the deficit by ensuring the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share in taxes, closing wasteful tax loopholes, and slashing wasteful spending on special interests.”
In an interview Tuesday, Lael Brainard, the National Economic Council director, said Biden’s middle-class roots, rather than any economic theory, have driven the policy.
“The president really does think about a family sitting around a kitchen table at the end of the week and thinking about whether they have breathing room, and he often refers to his own experience,” Brainard said. “His own experience in towns where a manufacturing plant might have shut down, where instead of leading to more investment in that town, tax cuts for big corporations actually didn’t preserve jobs.”
A recent NBC News poll found that only 20% of Americans think the country is headed in the right direction, while 74% believe it’s on the wrong track.
Pressed about how the president can argue “Bidenomics” is working despite his low polling numbers, Brainard acknowledged that there has been “a lot of consumer uncertainty” in recent years but said Americans are beginning to see positive developments in the economy.
“Most American families experienced a lot of fundamental uncertainty and hardship during the pandemic. Then we saw energy prices spike due to Putin’s war,” Brainard said Tuesday. “So there’s been a lot of economic uncertainty. But if you look at the data that came out today, consumer confidence has actually increased to a level that we haven’t seen since January of 2022, before that invasion and oil price spikes.
“So it is an economic reality that is positive — 13 million jobs created, unemployment below 4% for the longest stretch and 50 years," she said. "So those good developments, people are starting to feel them, and when they talk about their own personal financial circumstances, you can see that."